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Old December 6th, 2017, 08:36 AM   #591

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From the previous page:

transhumance noun \ tran(t)s-ˈhyü-mən(t)s , tranz- , -ˈyü- \ (French, from transhumer to practice transhumance, from Spanish trashumar, from tras- trans- [from Latin trans-] + Latin humus earth)

: seasonal movement of livestock (such as sheep) between mountain and lowland pastures either under the care of herders or in company with the owners

transhumant \-mənt\ adjective or noun

* * *

Returning to the Border reivers via Fraser's superb volume The Steel Bonnets:

Quote:
The agricultural system of the Borderers, peaceful and lawless alike, followed a regular pattern. From autumn to spring, when the nights were long, was the season for raiding; the summer months were for husbandry, and although raiding occurred then also, it was less systematic. Tillage took place in spring and summer, and the crops were mainly oats, rye and barley, but the main effort went into cattle and sheep raising. For this the rural Borderer had to be mobile, leaving his winter dwelling about April to move into the "heilands" where he lived in his sheiling for the next four or five months while the cattle pastured.

Although the sheiling communities were safer than the winter quarters, they were not immune from the reivers. Their inaccessibility cut both ways, for if it made raiding more difficult it also placed the herdsmen farther from the protection of the Warden forces. Eure wrote to Burghley at the start of the 1597 summering to complain that he could not defend the Middle March sheilings "without I have 100 foot from Berwick to lie during the summer with them for defence". In that season at least the Scots were hitting the sheilings harder than usual, so that Eure found his people were reluctant to venture out summering, "which is their cheifest profitt".

Following this system of transhumance was easier for people who were not accustomed to build houses for permanence, and who had learned from generations of warfare and raiding to live on the hoof. Even their winter quarters were often makeshift affairs that could be put up in a matter of hours. They were fashioned of clay, or of stones when they were available, and sometimes of turf sods, with roofs of thatch or turf. Most of the isolated holdings would be of this type, "huts and cottages" as Leslie says, "about the burning of which they are nowise concerned". It was easy enough to build another, and Sir Robert Bowes described in 1546 how "if such cottages or cabins where they dwell in be bront of one day they will the next day maik other and not remove from the ground".

In the larger villages there was more effort at permanence, with sturdy stone houses and walls, and in Tynedale and on the Scottish side there were some "very stronge houses" constructed of massive baulks of oak bound hard together and "so thycke mortressed that yt wilbe very harde, without greatt force and lasoure, to break or caste [them] downe". By lining the walls and roofs thickly with turf the builders went some way towards fire-proofing these block-houses; Ill Will Armstrong's house in the Scottish West March was "buylded after siche a manner that it couth not be brynt ne distroyed, unto it was cut downe with axes".

The next stage up from the wooden block-house was the peel tower, many of which can still be seen all over the Border. An excellent example is Smailholm, near Kelso, or Hollows Tower on the Esk, which are rather de luxe models, but show exactly the purpose which the peel tower served.

The peel was built of stone, with walls of massive thickness, and ideally was three or four storeys high. The only entrance was through a double door at ground level, one of the doors being an outer iron grating, and the other of oak reinforced with iron. The bottom storey was used as a store room, and the floors above were reached by a narrow curving stair, called a turnpike, usually going up clockwise to that a defender retreating up the flight had his unguarded left side to the wall, and his sword arm to the outside; his attacker, coming up, was at the disadvantage of having his sword arm to the wall. Tradition has it that the Kerrs, who were notoriously left-handed, built their stairs anti-clockwise.

The upper floors were the living quarters, and at the very top there would usually be a beacon, to summon help in attack or give warning of an impending foray.

— George MacDonald Fraser, The Steel Bonnets (1971)
Bonus word:

shieling (variants: sheiling, shealing, etc.) noun \ ˈshē-lən , -liŋ \ (Mid 16th century: from Scots shiel ‘hut’ [probably connected in some way with the synonymous Old Norse skále] + -ing)

Scottish and Northern English
1 : A roughly constructed hut used while pasturing animals
1.1 : An area of pasture

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A ruined sheiling in Gleann Mòr, south of Oban


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Smailholm Tower

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culverin noun \ ˈkəl-və-rən \ (Middle English, from Middle French couleuvrine, from couleuvre snake, from Latin colubra)

: an early firearm:
a : a rude musket
b : a long cannon (such as an 18-pounder) of the 16th and 17th centuries

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Old April 3rd, 2018, 05:36 AM   #592

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Tracing the development of the term "culverin" and the various weapons it is used to describe.

Quote:
The types of gunpowder weapons covered by this term varied greatly. The main usage referred to cannon, but a secondary meaning was small firearms that evolved into the first handguns (coulverines à main). These fired lead rather than stone or iron shot. Even concerning artillery alone, the term was used for guns of greatly varying and imprecise sizes, including light guns less than three feet long with bores as small as one inch (esmeril, semi-saker, falcom, falconet, minion, pasavolante, and serpentine). Some early types were small, firing 1/3-pound shot 200 yards or less. Others were medium-sized guns that could throw 6 to 9-pound shot several thousand yards, though just one-tenth that distance with any accuracy or power. The largest were capable of hurling 32-pound stone or iron balls several thousand yards with moderate accuracy. In time, "culverin" came to mean fairly large and long, thick-barreled guns designed to throw shot accurately at extended ranges. The French carted two "coulverines" to Formigny, one of the last battles of the Hundred Years' War (1337--1453).

Culverins were useful in sieges to hammer walls and provide covering fire for engineers, sappers, and military laborers engaged in digging or infantry guarding approaches and mines. A hundred years later culverins were the main gun used in war at sea, as long-range chase weapons or ship-smashers that could cripple a ship if fired broadside at close range. In the early 16th century one type of naval culverin was standardized at a caliber of 140mm. It fired solid shot or specialized ordinance up to 8 kilogram in weight. By the start of the 17th century "culverin" described a gun 11--12 feet long, that could shoot 18-pound shot to an effective range of 1,700 yards and a maximum range of 6,500. A "culverin-bastard" was a 9-foot gun that fired 12-pound shot an effective range of 600 yards and a maximum range of 4,000. A "demi-culverin" ("media culebrina" or "culverin-moyenne") was also nearly 9 feet long, but fired 10-pound shot to a greater effective range, 850 yards, and a maximum range of 5,000 yards. The "culverin-royal" was the monster of the class at many tons deadweight and 16 feet in length. I could hurl 32-pound shot with reasonable accuracy and great effect to 2,000 yards, and had an impressive maximum range of 7,000 yards. Never before had killing been possible at such distances.

— Cathal J. Nolan, The Age of Wars of Religion, 1000-1650 Volume I (2006)

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Early (15th century) culverins, from 'The Gun and Its Development' (1881) by William Wellington Greener


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Demi-culverin circa 1587 mounted on a reproduction carriage at Pevensey Castle

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propinquity noun \ prə-ˈpiŋ-kwə-tē \ (Late Middle English: from Old French propinquité, from Latin propinquitas, from propinquus ‘near’, from prope ‘near to’)

1 : the state of being close to someone or something; proximity

2 : close kinship

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Old May 1st, 2018, 04:08 AM   #593

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This excerpt of course uses the "word of the day," but also introduces a term and concept that has relevance to recent history as well as current events — "Near Abroad" (in Russian, Ближнее зарубежье blizhnee zarubezh'e).

Quote:
With the unexpected fall of the Soviet Union came both a new strategic reality and a new terminology to describe it. The sham federation called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) was replaced by 15 new states referred to as the Newly Independent States (NIS) or the former Soviet Union (FSU). In Russian political discourse, the label of choice for the other 14 erstwhile Soviet republics became the Near Abroad (blizhnee zarubezh'e). The context of its use suggests that this curious term is also a loaded one. It implies that Russia has special interests in the other ex-Soviet republics based on the historical background of these states (they were part of the tsarist and Soviet empires), their proximity, and the presence in them of a multimillion Russian diaspora. The claim to special privileges follows naturally. In sum, Near Abroad emits a proprietorial aura.

This perspective is not mere aspiration and rhetoric; it is underwritten by the propinquity and preponderance of Russian power. The Near Abroad adjoins Russia; it is still governed in the main by Russified, Soviet-era elites; and it depends overwhelmingly on Russia for needs ranging from trade and energy to arms, military training, and protection against rebellions. In the tsarist and Soviet eras, the outside world dealt with the south Caucasus and Central Asia on Moscow's terms: Access was calibrated or denied by the center. In the post-Soviet period, the United States, Iran, Turkey, Japan, China, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Nations, the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE), and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have increased their presence in the south Caucasus and Central Asia. Over time, the states of the southern Near Abroad will, as a result, hae a wider range of political and econimic choices. That said, for the foreseeable future no other state has the combination of interests, power, and ease of access to serve as a counterweight to Russia there, as the region's leaders and academic experts on foreign affairs realize all too well. In the jargon of international relations theory, the Near Abroad is a unipolar region (Russian preponderance is overwhelming) characterized by assymetric interdependence (Russia is dependent on the other 14, but they are far more dependent on it), and the dominant strategy of regional states toward Russia will be "bandwagoning" (accommodation), not "balancing" (resistance). By this I do not mean that the leaders of the southern Near Abroad do not (and will not) have their own agendas or that their foreign policies will be choreographed by Moscow. My point is that even their decisions to diversify economic and political transactions so as to decrease dependence on Russia will be made with a keen awareness that Russia is nearby and powerful and that they inhabit a zone that it considers vital for its national security.

— Rajan Menon, "After Empire: Russia and the Southern 'Near Abroad'" in The New Russian Foreign Policy edited by Michael Mandelbaum (1998)

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Grand Kremlin Palace, Moscow
Image Credit: TripSavvy

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longue durée noun \ ˈlȯŋ dyu̇-ˈrā \ (From French longue durée, specific use of longue durée long duration, long time from longue, feminine of long + durée duration.)
A perspective on history that extends deep into the past, focusing on the long-standing and imperceptibly slowly changing relationships between people and the world which constitute the most fundamental (and hence the least questioned or analysed) aspects of social life, and incorporating findings from disciplines such as climatology, demography, and physical geography. Later also more generally: the long term in historical discourse, as opposed to current or recent events.
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Old May 11th, 2018, 04:11 AM   #594

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In Francis Pryor's book examining the question of the British Anglo-Saxon invasion/migration, one of the things he describes is the long term persistence of certain cultural practices in Britain.

Quote:
It would be a mistake to regard the items placed in the ground or in water as mere things. Certainly they could be very beautiful, but like many objects they possessed a symbolic life of their own. Thus a sword could indeed be a weapon, but it could also be a symbol of an individual's rank or authority, so that its breaking before being offered to the waters would have symbolised that its owner had passed out of this life. Maybe the broken sword was thought to become whole again in the realm of the ancestors.

We can only speculate as to what these things originally symbolised, but there are now literally thousands — maybe tens of thousands — of prehistoric offerings known in Britain alone, and certain patterns are beginning to emerge. Water probably symbolised both separation and travel. Beneath it you died, yet it was also a substance in which you saw your own reflection — something we take for granted today, but which rarely happened in prehistory. A journey across water, whether by boat or on foot along a causeway, could symbolise the journey from this world to the next — or any other rite of passage. Prehistoric causeways which played an important ritual role often led to offshore islands, which again could be seen as symbolising other worlds or states of being. As for the corn-grinding stones, they possibly reflected the importance of the meal as a means of keeping the family together, but they could also have expressed a wealth of other ideas, including the role of women within society, motherhood or family life.

These rites first become evident archaeologically from around 4200 BC, at the onset of the New Stone Age or Neolithic period, but there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that their roots lie even further back in time — maybe even as far as post-Glacial times, around ten thousand years ago. The prevalence of certain themes over thousands of years does not indicate that a particular religion held sway for that length of time; it's doubtful whether one could have talked of 'a religion' in Neolithic times. What this longevity or persistence indicates is a phenomenon termed by French anthropologists the longue durée. Practices which persisted in certain cultures over huge stretches of time owed their longevity to the fact that they were embedded or rooted within aspects of society that were seen to be essential to that particular community. In prehistoric Britain, the most persistent theme was a concern with the cycle of time and the movement of celestial bodies.

[. . .]

The longevity of the religious ideas of pre-Roman Britain suggests they were deeply imbedded within society. These were not mere superstitions. The placing of swords and shields in a river was not the pre-Roman equivalent of tossing coins in a fountain 'for luck'. We should think more in terms of christening, Holy Communion or the funeral service. If these rites were deeply rooted withhin British culture, they were also part and parcel of everyday life; they fitted that life and expressed the way people viewed themselves, their family and their world. They were, if you wish, a ceremonial or ritualised expression of the beliefs that motivated people to get up in the morning.

The idea of the longue durée also suggests that when we find pre-Roman rites surviving into Roman and post-Roman times, we are witnessing the survival of far more than mere ritual or superstition. We are actually seeing the survival of ancient patterns of social organisation, family structure and cosmology too — because you cannot separate the rituals from the societies and the belief systems that gave rise to them. Certainly some will have been modified through time and changing circumstances, but the core of the beliefs must remain constant, or the rites become irrelevant — in which case they will whither and die.

— Francis Pryor, Britain AD (2004)
Later in the book, Pryor notes that the practice of placing swords into bodies of water persisted well into the Medieval period in Britain.


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Some of the swords and daggers (both Bronze Age and Iron Age) found in the prehistoric river channel at Must Farm in Cambridgeshire. Image Credit: Cambridge Archaeological Unit


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The Seax of Beagnoth, found in the River Thames.


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Medieval sword found in the River Witham in Lincolnshire. Image Credit: The British Museum

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vatic adjective \ ˈva-tik \ (Latin vātēs, vātis "prophet, seer" [akin to Gaulish—Greek spelling—ouā́ teis "those performing sacred rites," Old Irish fáith "seer, prophet," fáth "prophecy, prophetic wisdom," Welsh gwawd "song of praise, satire"; Gothic wods "possessed," Old English wōd "raging, senseless," Old Norse óðr "frantic, furious," all going back to Germanic *wōd-; Old High German wuot "rage, frenzy," going back to Germanic *wōdi-; Old English wōth "sound, noise, voice, song," Old Norse óðr "mind, sense, song, poetry," both going back to Germanic *wōþa-])

: describing or predicting what will happen in the future—prophetic, oracular
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Old May 11th, 2018, 06:59 AM   #595

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Thank you again for these invariably interesting and informative posts; there is more marrow in them than in anything else in this forum!
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Old May 12th, 2018, 03:18 AM   #596

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Thank you for those kind words, Linschoten. Creating posts for this thread is a pleasure. I only wish I were able to adhere a little closer to the schedule set out in the title!
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Old May 17th, 2018, 05:58 AM   #597

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The florid style used in the quote below might lead one to think that it was written in the 19th century. It is however a product of the 21st century, from a book expounding a theory which holds that the Duke of Buckingham colluded with Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, to procure for themselves gold that Sir Walter Raleigh may have found. In furtherance of this plot, the Duke worked behind the scenes to get Raleigh executed.

Quote:
One didn't have to be John Milton to ask, "What hard mishap" doomed Sir Walter, Colin Clout's hapless Shepherd of the Sea? It wasn't the waves or felon winds, although there was a case to be made against the Destiny, the Poe-like perfidious bark of yore that Raleigh bore, back to his own native shore. Better to have avoided Plymouth and taken French service, as he almost did.

"Who," the blind bard's ringing pronoun frames the question at the core of the case, "Who first seduced Justice to that foul revolt against humanity?" No need here of divine ecstasy or vatic illumination. The revelations of Le Blon gave answer credible enough about who visited such disaster on England: James' fresh, bright, homo-erotically appealing Favourite, George Villiers, newly created Marquis of Buckingham, he it was whose guile deceived the courts to fall off, and sunk so low Raleigh's venerable head. Plainly put, murdered him. When I first encountered Villiers' name in the Le Blon documents, my recollection of older biographers who romanticised the Duke as noble, faithful, and great minded too readily influenced me to put the best construction on his actions at the time of Sir Walter's trial and execution. Even though the Bishop of Winchester on his death bed, Baron Carew on his knees to the King, and Queen Anne herself sought to intercede on behalf of the grisard Elizabethan sea dog, El Privado, the new Favourite, as Gondomar styled him, stayed quiet as a startled mouse. "For once, though for once only," one biographer even wrote, the "generosity and magnanimity of this most generous and magnanimous and merciful" Royal Favourite failed a dependent who trusted him and — mirable dictu — simply abandoned Raleigh to his fate. James was so irate and so emotional about getting rid of a Raleigh who stood for too much that he hated, was my initial reaction, and so intent on pleasing "his brother" the King of Spain, that no one, not even Buckingham, dared stir, much less intervene. As Lockyer put it, there was little that he could then have done because the king had "made up his mind that Raleigh should die."

— Paul R. Sellin, Treasure, Treason and the Tower: El Dorado and the Murder of Sir Walter Raleigh (2011)
Bonus words:

grisard noun \ ˈgrizə(r)d \ (French, from gris gray + -ard)

: a gray-headed person

mirabile dictu Latin phrase \ mə-ˌrä-bə-lē-ˈdik-(ˌ)tü \

: wonderful to relate


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Engraving showing Sir Walter Raleigh's raid on the island of Trinidad in 1595 during the "El Dorado Expedition". It was during a second expedition in 1617 to South America that his son raided a Spanish settlement, contrary to orders from James I to refrain from attacking the Spanish. This contravention of orders was the ostensible reason for Sir Walter's execution.

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bartizan noun \ ˈbär-tə-zən , ˌbär-tə-ˈzan \ (Early 19th century: from 17th-century bertisene, Scots variant of bratticing ‘temporary breastwork or parapet’, from brattice; revived and reinterpreted by Sir Walter Scott.)

: a small structure (such as a turret) projecting from a building and serving especially for lookout or defense

* * *

The online Oxford Dictionaries from which the above etymology is taken is a milder source than the Oxford English Dictionary, which indicates that this word was wholly an archaized invention of Scott:

Quote:
In no dictionary before 1800; not in Todd 1818, nor Craig 1847. Apparently first used by Sir Walter Scott, and due to a misconception of a 17th cent. illiterate Scots spelling, bertisene , for bertising , i.e. bretising , bratticing n. < bretasce (brattice n.), < Old French bretesche, ‘battlemented parapet, originally of wood and temporary.’ Bartizan is thus merely a spurious 'modern antique,' which had no existence in the times to which it is attributed.
While Scott may have invented it, it is now in more or less common usage. Also spelled "bartisan," and otherwise known as a guerite or échauguette.
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Old June 14th, 2018, 02:54 AM   #598

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Noting that the excerpt below continues a predominant theme in recent selections for quotes which exhibit an unmistakable interest in a region and specific era, I'll try to be more diverse in future.

Quote:
Leaving the town [of Hawick, Scotland], we now enter on what is usually called Lower Teviotdale, which does not abound so richly in archaeological remains as the upper part of the river. About half-a-mile from the Teviot, situated on a hill, and looking down into a beautiful glen, stands the noble-looking tower of Burnhead. This tower was a stronghold of the Branxholme Scotts, and from its appearance seems as if it had been the mansion-house of some important chief, because there is no resemblance between it and Goldielands or Allanhaugh. Strange to say, the history of this Border tower is shrouded in the mist of antiquity, and it is only mentioned about twice in the various deeds concerning the Buccleuch retainers. One side of it is completely covered in ivy, and this has a very romantic appearance when viewed from the beautiful glen in which it is placed. Some of the original tower was taken down when the modern portion was to be erected. The tower is somewhat longer than the common peel, and quite as broad, nearly the same height, but with a three-foot wall. This latter circumstance plainly tells us that it was not merely built as a place of strength. Internally it appears more like an ordinary keep: the bottom flat is vaulted, and was doubtless used for the cattle at night to keep them out of the enemy's hands. When we go up the usual small winding stairs, it seems as if Sir Walter [Scott] had taken this tower as his type in the introduction to one of the "Cantos in Marmion":—
"Methought that still with trump and clang
The gateway's broken arches rang:
Methought dim features, seamed with scars,
Glared through the windows' rusty bars."
On the way up we can notice two or three loopholes from which stones and arrows were hurled on the foe. Of the second story, where the family resided, not much remains, it having been incorporated with the recent structure to form a drawing-room. On the third story is the bartisan or outlook of the tower. Here was placed the bale-fire can which was lighted with peat or other suitable article. On the bartisan the wall projects for about three feet, on which very likely the can was placed. When we step on this now grassy surface a beautiful view of Teviotdale and the west is got. Burnhead very possibly got its name from being near the place where the burn took a bend. The stream does not start here, but, after flowing due south, it makes near the tower a south-easterly bend towards the river. In 1666 the laird of Burnhead, Robert Scott, was among the pursuers in an action raised by the Duchess of Buccleuch, Scott of Galalaw being on the same side.

— "The Teviot and its Historical Associations," Transactions of the Hawick Archaeological Society (1884)
Bonus word:

balefire noun \ ˈbāl-ˌfī(-ə)r \ (Middle English, from Old English bǣlfȳr funeral fire, from bǣl pyre + fȳr fire)

: an outdoor fire often used as a signal fire

The term "balefire" also appears to have significance in regard to certain practices of ancient pagan religions, as can be seen here.


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Burnhead Tower
The bartizan presently consists of the projecting area in front of the gable on the left.
Image Credit: Scottish Castles Association



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Coxton Tower, Lhanbryde, Morayshire, Scotland
Image Credit: Oxford Dictionary of Architecture

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hypocorism noun (Late Latin hypocorisma, from Greek hypokorisma, from hypokorizesthai to call by pet names, from hypo- + korizesthai to caress, from koros boy, korē girl)

1 : a pet name

2 : the use of pet names

hypocoristic or hypocoristical adjective

hypocoristically adverb

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Old June 22nd, 2018, 04:07 AM   #599

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In the book from which today's quote is taken, Michael Wood follows the history of an English village from its earliest known origins and through to the present era as a vehicle for telling The Story of England.

Quote:
How then did the scattered early-Anglian settlement above the valley of the Welland become an English village called Kibworth? The village story now takes us into the days of the kings of Mercia, who were the first to call themselves kings of all the English. And, as for any English village, along with the topography the place name contains a first vital clue to the history. The name Kibworth means the 'enclosure' — worthig in Old English — of a man called Cybba. Who was Cybba? This Anglian name appears nowhere else though there are related forms in the Midlands such as Cubbel. But it resonates suggestively with names in the Mercian royal family, particularly the alliterating 'P' names and the 'C' names in two branches of the royal pedigrees, such as Pybba, Penda, Paeda, Paega, Crida and Cnebba. Like Pybba, or the royal holy woman Tibba, Cybba is bisyllabic and hypocoristic, a shortened diminutive as a nickname or term of endearment. The name evokes what an eighth-century writer called the 'noblest line of the Middle Angles', which could be counted back 'step by step' to Icil in the migration era. People had long memories in the Dark Ages and many Mercian nobles by the eighth century could trace their royal descent, however distant. Perhaps then Cybba belonged to a minor branch of the royal tree: a man who in the heyday of the Mercians in the eighth century was gifted his own estate by the king himself.

The second part of the name, 'worth', common as it is in England today, may also be surprisingly significant. Settlements' names involving 'worth', though frequent in Old English charters, only start to appear from about 730. And some early ones in Mercia are of high status, like Brixworth with its magnificent royal church, the royal estate of Bosworth, or Northworthy, the old name of Derby, the 'capital' of the North Mercians. At an early stage the word seems to have developed a meaning akin to burh, 'a fortified place'. Tamworth, the royal 'capital' and ancient centre of the South Mercians, changed its name from Tomtun ('the tun of the dwellers on the River Tame') in the early eighth century to Tomeworthig, when Mercian kings encircled it with a defensive enclosure, which has been excavated by modern archaeologists. Whether Anglo-Saxon Kibworth was just a ditched demesne farm or whether it actually had a defensive enclosure is not known, though a village ditch survives at Harcourt enclosing an area comparable to the Tamworth defences. In seventeenth-century maps the village still nestles inside this circuit, with its houses, tofts and gardens, the boundary defined by a hedge and ditch and a line of medieval fishponds.

— Michael Wood, The Story of England (2010)
Revisited word:

demesne noun \di-'mān, -'mēn\ (Middle English demeyne [modern spelling by late 15c.], from Anglo-French demesne, demeine, Old French demaine "land held for a lord's own use," from Latin dominicus "belonging to a master," from dominus "lord." Re-spelled by Anglo-French legal scribes under influence of Old French mesnie "household" [and the concept of a demesne as "land attached to a mansion"] and their fondness for inserting -s- before -n-.)

1 : legal possession of land as one's own

2 : manorial land actually possessed by the lord and not held by tenants

3 a : the land attached to a mansion
b : landed property : estate

c : region, territory
4 : realm, domain

Bonus word:

toft noun \ ˈtȯft , ˈtäft \ (Middle English, from Old English, from Old Norse topt ['ground attached to a house']; probably akin to Greek dapedon floor, demein to build, pedon ground)

: a site for a dwelling and its outbuildings; also : an entire holding comprising a homestead and additional land


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Kibworth railway station, apparently in Edwardian times
Image Credit: Kibworth & District Chronicle

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panjandrum noun \ pan-ˈjan-drəm \ (Panjandrum looks like it might be a combination of Latin and Greek roots, but in fact it is a nonsense word coined by British actor and playwright Samuel Foote around 1755. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Foote made up a line of gibberish to "test the memory of his fellow actor Charles Macklin, who had asserted that he could repeat anything after hearing it once." Foote's made-up line was, "And there were present the Picninnies, and the Joblillies, and the Garyulies and the Grand Panjandrum himself, with the little round button at the top." Some 75 years after this, Foote's passage appeared in a book of stories for children by the Anglo-Irish writer Maria Edgeworth. It took another quarter century before English speakers actually incorporated panjandrum into their general vocabulary. [The OED mentions that coining the word via composition of a nonsensical passage has also been attributed to the actor James Quin.])

: a powerful personage or pretentious official

Last edited by Recusant; June 22nd, 2018 at 04:20 AM.
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Old July 12th, 2018, 02:13 AM   #600

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A quote dealing briefly with the fortunes of war, and how they can change the careers of peacetime military leaders.

Quote:
Who's who is a matter of which soldiers are left in little doubt. Not for their leaders the anonymity of a dark suit and an unmarked car. 'Who' can be told from all the whoms in the military world by a plethora of outward and visible signs—plumes, medals, sashes, gold lace, an attentive entourage and a row of stars on the official conveyance whose length exactly indicates the importance of the occupant. 'Mr Smith, I believe!', the deathless error of identification launched at the Duke of Wellington on the frock-coated streets of London, was not one even the village idiot could have made if the victor of Waterloo had been in uniform.

But all that glitters is not gold. Peacetime generals are often the first casualties of war. However stout the heart that beats beneath the braid, it is brain and nervous system that count when armies clash. The great panjandrums of the parade ground are frequently found to lack both when armies take the field. There have been some famous massacres of reputations as a result. Between August and September 1914, Joffre sacked one third of the generals in the French army. After the Wehrmacht's defeat outside Moscow in 1941, Hitler replaced nearly half the senior generals on the Russian front. Armies even coin words for these humiliations. 'Stellenbosched' was what the British army called generals sent to the place furthest from action in the Boer War. 'Limogé' was the French equivalent in the First World War.

'Stellenbosching' has its reciprocal effect. Men disfavoured or overlooked in peace are often proved by the test of war to be men of steel. Pétain, blocked for promotion and only a colonel in 1914 because of his unfashionable insistence on the importance of fire-power, found himself commanding a brigade at the battle of Marne and a corps in the following year. By 1916 he was the saviour of Verdun and a national hero. Foch, too, was propelled to the heights with the same rapidity when war found in him a resilience and power to inspire that nothing in peace had called forth. Rommel, a colonel in 1939 and a simple infantryman, discovered in 1940 that he and the tank had an affinity for each other which resulted in the most brilliant display of mobile tactics since Sherman had marched from Atlanta to the sea in 1864.

— John Keegan and Andrew Wheatcroft, Who's Who in Military History: From 1453 to the Present Day (third edition, 2002)
I will avoid commenting on their choice of Sherman as exemplifying brilliant mobile tactics in the American Civil War given other examples available from that conflict. Opinions vary; so be it.

However, I cannot resist noting a definite lapse of less significance. It's curious how the authors and editors of this book managed for multiple editions to overlook the error in the little anecdote about Wellington. He was actually mistaken for a Mr. Jones, not a Mr. Smith. "Deathless" indeed.


Click the image to open in full size.

Arthur Wellesley Duke of Wellington


Click the image to open in full size.

George Jones, R.A.

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bantling noun \ ˈbant-liŋ \ (perhaps modification of German Bänkling bastard [that is, a child begotten on a bench as opposed to the conjugal bed], from Bank bench, from Old High German)

: a very young child [formerly a synonym of bastard]

Last edited by Recusant; July 12th, 2018 at 02:38 AM.
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